When it seems a new Kira has emerged from the ether, former SPK agents Hal Lidner and Anthony Rester approach Near to see what he's going to do about it. After all, he is the new L now and everyone knows that L takes on Kira. Or does he?
Well, yeah, as long as he accepts that his opponent really is Kira. If not, then why take a Fool's Journey along the same old pathway, as directed by an imitator. Near's already taken those steps and learned those lessons. He's already in possession of that world. As underscored and illustrated throughout this one-shot Death Note manga sequel by use of tarot imagery.
L's successor - now L - quite literally occupies The World in tarot. He's created a whole world from the cards!
Near's Position in the Death Note Manga One-Shot
As Matsuda makes clear before we even glimpse Near, the current L is in a position of considerable power in this new post-Kira world. Especially as regards understanding and information.
The story takes place nine years after Light Yagami received a Death Note from the Shinigami Ryuk, and three years since his serial killing persona Kira was killed by the same. All of which was not only orchestrated and witnessed by Near, but he also obtained custody of said Death Note AND calls the shots on what details enter the public sphere. There is some intelligence known for certain only to Near - like the whereabouts/Fate of that deadly notebook - which he expects others simply to take his word on trust.
Near not only has the keenest overview of this world as far as Kira concerns it, but he is able to determine all future aspects of Kira within it. Light Yagami might once have thought himself God of This New World. But in reality, it turned out to be Near.
He and/or the Death Note creators - Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata - choose to express that with use of the tarot, tarot cards and the Fool's Journey through the Major Arcana (though the latter is largely implied). And by 'Near's world in tarot cards', I mean that quite explicitly.
Our First View of Near in Death Note One-Shot
When Hal Lidner and Anthony Rester enter Near's hub, it's to find themselves confronted by a wall of cards. Superimposed against a view of the city, representing the world outside.
We see this urban sprawl first. It's a telescoping within from tower, as context and location, to room as specific spot wherein lurks the current L. But it also emphasizes the fact that we're seeing their environment/territory/universe. At its centre, there's Near; architect and creator of the cityscape in cards.
In truth, these could be any old cards (though the minor arcana in tarot is the four suits of playing cards anyway). However, it's made overt in the next clutch of panels that Near chose tarot with which to build his card tower's massive expanse.
After underscoring again that that Near knows everything (the panel after this states that he's 100% certain that a Death Note is involved in the latest killing spree by one labelled Kira via those denizens of the world wide web), he goes on to prioritize in importance the safety of his 'tarot card tower'.
The world he's constructed in the wake of the previous Kira tops that being introduced by this new one.
The World in Near's Tarot Card Tower
I have repeatedly used 'The World' in conjunction with Near in this Death Note manga special. This is no accidental over-usage of the words. The World is the last card of the tarot's major arcana. It's the final trump to play. It's what there is to play for.
The World's meaning is to return to the beginning but, as the poet says, see it again for the first time. Those in control of The World, or in a World state, recognize the signs for an environment in which they originally tramped through in all ignorance. Only this time they have the overview; experience from lesson's learned and teachers along the way; and incorporate within their own personalities the archetypes enacted by the previous arcana.
To enter The World is to complete the circle, thus finish the story. Typically, the possessor of The World will ape the stance of The Fool from card zero. Only instead of blithely heading straight towards an unseen cliff-edge, they will note the abyss before them, smile knowingly and step right over it. Then they fly.
It achieves a bird's eye view of everything below in manageable, surmountable, graspable miniature. All they survey, they know. The World is their oyster; it belongs to them entirely.
Thus is Near situated here. Warning Lidner and Rester not to 'knock over his tarot card tower' - The World he holds; built of all he mastered in the journey towards its construction - because that would indicate a brand, new world for the making. But first, he has to double check. Only then can he soar over his cliff-edge in complete (intellectual) ownership of all he surveys.
Contemplating L - Original Wammy Fool of the Death Note Universe
It has to be assumed that Near understands the symbolism and archetypes inherent in the tarot. At least, insofar as that's all we ever see from his decks, those of the major arcana. Assuming that he hasn't just got a pack arranged precisely beside him at all times, then Near is seen picking a card at random in order to begin his contemplation of L.
As his Wammy predecessor on the original Kira case, L may be viewed as the original Fool. The first one to undertake this journey, which Near then inherited. Therefore all cards in the tarot would pertain to L.
And to Near too, upon the same journey. He and L together may take an overview through the way-makers and ponder the states learned, mastered and/or understood. His insight isn't into one specific point, but them all. If Near knew less about the tarot, then he might have opted for a single card, one which he knew intimately and/or triggered the pensive subject.
Moreover, because he inherited this case from L the original Fool, it's to L's mindset Near must return to identify the start. There to recognize it most fully when it's viewed again from the end. 'What would L do?' pretty much delineates the boundaries of this quest; the rules of the game, determining failure or success; and what Near must consider most important of all in concluding the same right now.
If you like, L drew the lines in the sand to begin the battle. Now Near has to return to where that was, in order to draw a line under the Kira case, so to end it.
The Other Tarot Cards on the Floor in Near's Tarot Musings
It may be of interest to contemplate the other cards spread out around Near's Death (Light Yagami) and Fool (C-Kira) cards. They don't actually seem all that random, when placed in conjunction with Near's known history; and the card he surveyed whilst holding the L puppet aloft might be surmised.
First there's Strength, which is pretty much what it says on the packet. That's the sheer endurance and brute force intellect required to survive The Wammy House for Gifted and Talented Orphans. Followed by The Priestess - the inspiration for entering the quest, or reason to be upon that great Fool's Journey - aka Roger telling Near and Mello that L was dead and Kira was reigning unchecked.
Both are already on the floor by the time Near picks out a card to contemplate with L. Later panels show that to be The Hermit - the isolated light in the darkness, which both Near and Mello would have represented at that time. In short, Near's own instance of inheriting L's Fool's quest, and bringing himself up to speed in following the clues rippling out from L's investigation.
This is followed by The Star, which could be summarized as 'hope', i.e. when Near sourced the means to fully integrate himself into the Kira case. Then Death - Kira - and The Fool - C-Kira.
It could be that Near is merely hunting through a tarot deck looking for the two that will illustrate his mind-set and direct his musing, discarding all others along the way. Or it could be that he's spelling out the story thus far, in order to reach his conclusion. Revisiting major markers on his own journey to this moment, so to recognize the reality of the situation in which he now finds himself.
Seeing The World for the cliff-edge it is, thus finding the courage to soar above it.
Toppling Near's Tarot World - Clearing The Decks with the Analytical Hermit?
Death Note One-Shot Special: Near Claims The World in Tarot
It is the prerogative of the enlightened Fool, at the end of their Journey, with all their lessons learned, situations enacted and archetypal states fully realised to return to the beginning and see it again with its truths revealed. The Wise Fool in possession of The World gets to soar beyond with a smile on their faces, enjoying a bird's eye view of all the components which make up reality.
In mastery of their dominion, those claiming The World in tarot cards may even dictate its reality to others (though such elevated, returning Fools in symbolic reality generally feel no need to; displays of power play like that not only appear trifling but meaningless too in the face of other Fools and other realities).
Thus Near finishes his contemplation of The World by opting out of it. But not before he's seen pronouncing his conclusion through an overview of everything, as represented by a whole wall of tarot cards, each carrying their own component towards the whole picture.
Viewed close up, Near seems to be symbolically revisiting a similar point on his own 'true' journey; contrasting this apparently easy conclusion with one which wasn't so simple to conclude. Compare this frame with Near's previous derogation of Light Yagami's Kira.
Then we pull away for the long shot and know that Near truly has returned to the beginning and seen it for the first time. That he really has seen and accepted his truth in The World; that he is no mere successor to L, but L himself. With the power to disdain lesser distractions that would teach him nothing new; to reject imprisonment inside an arena begun and delineated by some other Fool; to step away from The World, over the cliff top, and into new journeys bespoke to himself.
The Hermit's illumination, with Mello in hand (literally) to spark the courage for chaotic dismantlement, quickly escalated into Near knowing to pull down his own tarot card tower, and build the whole thing anew. After all, Near now owned The World.
Incidentally, this gets quite poignant when you realise whom Near is addressing here. That speech bubble for his unseen partner in discussion is L. It's the style used whenever L speaks through a monitor - over a television screen or computer - alongside a letter upon a white background. Throughout this Death Note One-Shot Special, that was Near himself speaking publicly as L.
Or put another way, this is Nate River conversing with Near right at the point when he mentally and emotionally accepts that he is L. When he steps free of The World as delineated by L. Lawliet and embarks upon new worlds of his own discovery, and journeys of his own destiny.
From Sun to World: Near Steps Out of L's Shadow via Tarot Symbolism
A final world compares the images of Near from the beginning and end of this Death Note One-Shot Special. The front cover artwork depicts him still very much a successor to L, continuing the ways of his idol until completion of that particular journey. Near's own voice is overtly silenced, subsumed beneath a finger-puppet of L. Himself acting entirely as L's proxy.
We travel through the story, witnessing Near's final leap from Wammy heir to the L Code to one actually in possession of it, mentally as well as physically. There is no Lawliet by the final depiction of Near, in the manga's closing artwork. Though Near now looks more like L than ever before, and sits confidentially beneath a shining tag proclaiming the same - backwards, forwards and in black and white.
In terms of tarot, there are characteristics in the former which suggest that of The Sun tarot card. Blazing far more keenly than The Hermit ever could, The Sun indicates those seeing their own being, environment and all anew. They aren't necessarily illuminated, but ARE the illumination. "Who are you?", asked The Fool of the Sun. "I am you." The Sun replied.
It's the final stage before Judgement calls and, beyond that, The World.
There are fewer indicators that the last piece of artwork in Death Note's canon series depicts Near as archetype of The World. Nor can we totally dismiss it. There are no symbol creatures in each corner, but that central topmost circle could pass for a globe, and Near himself - L-esque as he appears - could arguably be perched with his back against a cliff-top; or at least the dark unknown.
Nevertheless it's a stretch, so we'll leave this here.
Next time we'll begin our journey through the Death Note major arcana proper, looking at the Fool tarot card
~ Tarot Mikami
Just a reminder about a Death Note event on Tumblr, which began yesterday and continues over the Christmas period to finish on December 26th 2015.
Death Note Ladies Appreciation Weeks looks to redress the balance in focus given to Death Note's women and girl characters. Let's face it, the fandom really does relish its male personae over the female cohort. Yet there are some extremely kick-ass and/or fascinating ladies in this universe. Explore their stories in canon pics; elaborate upon them in fan-fiction and fan-art; discover that they even exist, if you blinked and missed their cameo.
This is the second year running for the Tumblr event for Death Note fans. Anyone can join in. You just tag your update with #dn ladies appreciation and post away, preferably on the day scheduled for your yuri pairing and/or each individual female Death Note character's bespoke date:
For more details, check out our original head's up about the event; where you'll also find a slightly easier collage of Death Note women to test your knowledge of characters in the Death Note universe. For answers to the much more difficult one posted at the top here, see below:
And if you're looking for inspiration and/or something to post on each day, then our sidebar has all of these ladies listed under Death Note News Categories - archives full of things about them! Feel free to post links to what you will.
Can't get enough Hal Lidner? Sick of hunting in vain for some Misa/Takada yuri? Wish you saw more fan love for Shoko Himura? Your time has come.
For the second year running, Death Note Ladies Appreciation Weeks will be hosted on Tumblr over the Christmas period. It aims to throw a spotlight on those under-rated female characters from Death Note.
Under the heading Expect the Unpredictable!, Tumblr user ComplicatedMerary announced the site wide event, and highlighted the guidelines for those who wish to participate.
Beginning on December 13th 2015 (Mello's birthday!), Death Note Ladies Appreciation Weeks spans the holiday period to end on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas. Until then, the Tumblr event will be divided into distinct halves.
Week One (Dec 13th-19th) is given over to Death Note yuri. Each day is devoted to two bespoke pairings, with the final one a yuri wild card for the female Death Note couple of your choice. Week Two (Dec 20th-26th) similarly features a daily focus. This time the limelight falls upon individual Death Note women. Two named in any given day, before that too ends with a wild card.
Dec 26th is the day for highlighting your favourite female Death Note character.
Hop on over to Tumblr to learn more about it. Contribute, or merely sit back and watch the ladies of Death Note fill the website in glorious array.
Do you ever look at Misa and think 'badly drawn and not at all girly cute'?
Nope, nor me. On the contrary, she seems to be the epitome of all that's cute, practically unto the point of annoyance. Give or take the murderous gaze and scribbling. That's not so cute. It just makes for a great story.
Neither do I consider the likes of Hal or Naomi to be particularly conceptualized on the page.
Yet their artist doesn't share our view.
Takeshi Obata gave an interview to Juliet Kahn of Comic Alliance, during his recent trek to the United States. There's not a great deal of focus upon Death Note, so I'll not wax too lyrical about it here. But there was an intriguing comment about his art.
CA: Is there anything you especially love or hate to draw?
What do you think? Do you agree that Obata is better at drawing the male of the species than its ladies? Or are you as dismissive as I am about the self-effacing criticism?
There's much more in the interview, though it's mostly about All You Need is Kill and Bakuman. Visit Comic Alliance for the full low down.
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Site Claim and Authorship Verification: All that follows is for me to prove my authorship of Death Note News in various places. Hoop jumping stuff for me; boring for everyone else.